As often happens, when I looked at my visitor map this morning there had been visitors to this blog from every continent on the planet (other than Antarctica) over the last three days. I have great admiration for the Europeans and Asians and Africans and South/Central/North Americans (and maybe a few in the British Isles and the land of Oz and Kiwi who would say that I speak American) whose mother tongue is NOT English and yet manage to read and perhaps even comment on my blog. Visitors are certainly welcome and commenters are often but not always answered, depending upon the relevance and civility of their comments. Rude comments are allowed but I will delete any foul language that is detected. So far that only happens about once a year and perhaps less. That is a good trend!
Blog sharks and their companions
My wife and I were having a discussion about the commenters, most of whom choose to remain anonymous when they disagree with me. Those who agree usually give some kind of identification. I do have some traditional worldview "foes" such as Woolf and Canucklehead who identify themselves so this is a general statement that is not comprehensive in scope. I suggested that my blog was like a shark and the commenters like pilot fish who exist in symbiosis with the shark, plucking parasites from its hide and occasionally cleaning its teeth. She replied that antagonistic commenters were more like remoras, attaching themselves and depending entirely upon the shark for direction and scraps of food. We had a laugh, but in fact commenters are actually more like pilot fish because they may hang around and go where the blog goes but they all have their own individual choice to follow or go in tandem or at any point to break off and go alone or in search of another shark or manta ray or other larger sea creature.
My pilot fish do pick at my hide but they do so to try to change my direction or annoy. In so doing they provide a forum for debate and no doubt a few Darwinists have honed their anti-God anti Creationist skills here before moving on. Some have commented off and on for years and some, like Hawkeye and Highboy and Angel and Amy Proctor are buddies who usually agree with me and occasionally start their own dialogues with other commenters in the comments thread. In fact some of my readers are blog sharks themselves and some of them are bigger sharks than me who occasionally come alongside and say hello before heading off in their own direction again.
Today is slow at work for most of the world not involved in Christmas shopping is taking the day off, including schools and many of the administrators of networks I would normally deal with so while awaiting email replies and phone calls, I blog on. I am grateful to be alive and to have a wonderful family. Four times I was involved in life-threatening accidents and twice I have survived attempted murder and, as a result, I live in constant pain and take medications that would make most people quite groggy and inarticulate. Think it not strange that I may have been a target for murder, as there was a time in my non-Christian early days that I was a drug dealer aligned with a biker gang and for a time hung out with felons and thieves and thugs. I was also targeted for murder by a treacherous woman-beater who was afraid to face me when I defended a woman he had abused. I was once a strange mixture, a basically nice guy hanging out with a rough crowd just focused on wine, women and song and drugs of various types and not giving much thought to the character of the men and women with whom I was "running." I was a big dog in a pack of savage wolves, unaware that I was not exactly a wolf myself.
Something recently reminded me of my stay in one area where my best friend was a combination of Robert Redford, Don Quixote and Bruce Lee. He was a tad shorter than me and we both weighed about 165 pounds. I could beat him in basketball or swimming or tennis and etc. When we lifted weights we both could do about the same other than the bench press, where 225 pounds ten times was enough for me but he could exceed that easily. But even though I had done quite a bit of self-defense and offensive training with Taekwando and boxing, this guy was astounding. He was working part-time as a bouncer for a nightclub and also full time in the Army as a clerk. He would take on three big thugs and have them all laying on the ground in pain in about 40 seconds and so his small stature soon came with a big reputation and regulars at the club knew to not mess with Rick. The prettiest girls all chased him rather than the other way around. I met a lot of pretty girls just because I was his "wingman" so to speak, although the term had not yet been coined in that context. We were just best friends. It was after we parted ways and I moved to Texas that I found myself amongst the gangster population and, worse yet, became hooked on the drugs I was dealing.
Fast-forward to a few months of being a needle user and living a "Needle and the Damage Done" life. I went cold turkey, turning myself in to a facility to dry out and get off the stuff. Hard times. I got away from the drug gang but soon turned to just more drinking and more pot-smoking and began to become the same person all over again. I was one of the more literate potheads in the population and certainly well-spoken for a drunk but a life of continual substance abuse would have eventually cast me into prison or the grave had God not intervened. Jesus Christ did not simply save me from my sins, He also completely changed my life! No one who knows me now personally can easily conceive of me as a prodigal wastrel outlaw dabbling in witchcraft and curses and doing virtually any drug known to frequent the streets and having no qualms having multiple "girlfriends" at one time as long as one did not know about the other. I had been the kind of man I would have warned my kids to stay far away from and there are those in my past who could not conceive of me being a pastor or an executive or sitting on a board of directors of a charitable institution or holding an office down or any of the other things I have done subsequent to my conversion. Once I was a soldier who took LSD before going to work at the Pentagon one day just to see if I could get away with it. Once I was a gangster who knew more bikers and their old ladies than I did "normal" people. Once I was a Lothario who would say anything to convince a pretty girl to accompany me. All these are memories of a departed life.
The slings and arrows
With the weather change, my left shoulder thrice-operated on, my nerve damaged back and right leg and foot and my oft-strained and sprained knees and once-broken ankle ache and moan more than normal. Auto accidents and factory accidents added to years of athletics and years of sinful living now add up to the fact that if I am awake, I am in pain and if I am asleep the pain hinders my rest. Rehabilitation and strict diets and multiple pills are part of my daily routine now. Some days depression attempts to take me down but then I get my focus off of self and onto God and onto others and it passes on.
My wonderful wife and children and grandchildren and "Godchildren" and sister's family and friends are all Christians in part because a merciful God would not give up on a wayward, selfish, egotistical agnostic child even after he'd become a man and was seemingly set in stone as a self-centered party animal rock and roller on the highway to hell. In my wife's case, a once party animal herself, salvation came to her a bit earlier and she has less of a sinful background but we can both clearly see the difference between where we were and where we are now.
Once I was a flood of stormy sinful water rushing downstream to my doom. God turned me and my wife and friend and soulmate into a united rock that stands against the flow and has been building a dam of faith against the tide of worldly sinful ways, a dam that has provided a lake of peace and truth for our family and friends and the young people who will listen, for my wife and my oldest son also work in the youth ministry with me, teaching teenagers to think critically and examine their hearts and their heads and their faith.
All these wounds, all these memories, all these misadventures were like heat-treating and tempering steel so that I could withstand all the fury of the forces of evil that hate God and hate Truth and uphold selfishness as an ideal. There is no commenter who can hurt my feelings with derision and mocking, that is nothing compared to what I have seen and survived. Those who mean to hurt my feelings simply make themselves look a bit petty. Commenters who think they will hurt my feelings are wasting ammunition. The only way to make any headway as a commenter on this blog is to ask intelligent questions and provide intelligent answers. If you barf out a string of questions at once I will probably just ignore them all. But a reasoned debate is worth having.
Shaking a spear
So in summation, commenters, I am a tough old bird aka a Rooster Cogburn, a man who is not impressed with childish taunts and is bored by repetitive illogical statements. Bring your best to the comments thread and you may become part of a blog post (or bring your worst and you may become part of a blog post, too, albeit as a laughable example). I applaud anyone who can logically defend a viewpoint but if you do not even understand that you are beginning with a point of view then you are incapable of learning anything new. Both the Bible and Shakespeare teach us to know ourselves and to ourselves be true.
I am willing to continue to keep posting new information and tune up old arguments and a wise commenter will be recognized. If you comment and I ignore you that is of course my choice, it is my blog, and I do not erase what you say just because you disagree with me. But some of you just repost the exact same thing every three or four or five weeks in derision, boilerplate complaints devoid of evidence that are "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Do you have something intelligent to say and evidence to back it up. Then I say, "Cry 'havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war!" (From Macbeth and Julius Caesar, respectively)
I will give God the last word, from Psalms 75:
we praise you, for your Name is near;
people tell of your wonderful deeds.
it is I who judge with equity.
3 When the earth and all its people quake,
it is I who hold its pillars firm.[b]
4 To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns.[c]
5 Do not lift your horns against heaven;
do not speak so defiantly.’”
or from the desert can exalt themselves.
7 It is God who judges:
He brings one down, he exalts another.
8 In the hand of the LORD is a cup
full of foaming wine mixed with spices;
he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth
drink it down to its very dregs.
I will sing praise to the God of Jacob,
10 who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked,
but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”